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Other objects will likewise claim your attention ;, because, from the station which the United States hold, as a member of the great community of nations, they have rights to maintain, duties to perform, and dangers to encounter.
A strong hope was entertained that peace would, ere this, have been concluded between Spain and the independent governments south of the United States in this hemisphere. Long experience having evinced the competency of those governments to maintain the independence which they had declared, it was presumed that the considerations which induced their recognition by the United States would have had equal weight with other powers, and that Spain herself, yielding to those magnanimous feelings of which her history furnishes so many examples, would have terminated, on that basis, a controversy so unavailing, and at the same time so destructive. We still cherish the hope that this result will not long be postponed.
Sustaining our neutral position, and allowing to each party, while the war continues, equal rights, it is incumbent on the United States to claim of each, with equal rigor, the faithful observance of our rights, according to the well-known law of nations. From each, therefore, a like co-operation is expected in the suppression of the piratical practice which has grown out of this war, and the blockades of extensive coasts on both seas, which, considering the small force employed to sustain them, have not the slightest foundation to rest on.
Europe is still unsettled, and although the war long menaced between Russia and Turkey has not broken out, there is no certainty that the differences between those powers will be amicably adjusted. It is impossible to look to the oppressions of the country, respecting which those differences arose, without being deeply affected. The mention of Greece fills the mind with the most exalted sentiments, and arouses in our bosoms the best feelings of which our nature is susceptible. Superior skill and refinement in the arts, heroic gallantry in action, disinterested patriotism, enthusiastie zeal and devotion in favor of public and personal liberty, are associated with our recollections of ancient Greece. That such a country should have been overwhelmed and so long hidden, as it were, from the world, under a gloomy despotism, has been a cause of unceasing and deep regret to generous minds for ages past. It was natural, therefore, that the re-appearance of those people in their original character, contending in favor of their liberties, should produce that great excitement and sympathy in their favor which have been so signally displayed throughout the United States. A strong hope is entertained that these people will recover their independence, and resume their equal station among the nations of the earth.
A great effort has been made in Spain and Portugal to improve the condition of the people, and it must be very consoling to all benevolent minds to see the extraordinary moderation with which it has been conducted. That it may promote the happiness of both nations is the ardent wish of this whole people, to the expression of which we confine ourselves; for what
be the feelings or sentiments which every individual under our government has a right to indulge and express, it is nevertheless a sacred maxim, equally with the government and people, that the destiny of every independent nation, in what relates to such improvements, of right belongs and ought to be left exclusively to themselves.
Whether we reason from the late wars, or from those menacing symptoms which now appear in Europe, it is manifest, that if a convulsion should
take place in any of those countries, it will proceed from causes which have no existence and are uticrly unknown in these states, in which there is but one order, that of the people, to whom the sovereignty exclusively belongs. Should war break out in any of those countries, who can foretell the extent to which it may be carried, or the desolation which it may spread? Exempt as we are from these causes, our internal tranquillity is secure; and distant as we are from the troubled scene, and faithful to first principles in regard to other powers, we might reasonably presume that we should not be molested by them. This, however, ought not to be calculated on as certain. Unprovoked injuries are often inflicted, and even the peculiar felicity of our situation might, with some, he a cause for excitement and aggression. The history of the late wars in Europe furnishes a complete demonstration that no system of conduct, however correct in principle, can protect neutral powers from injury from any party; that a defenceless position and distinguished love of peace are the surest invitations to war; and that there is no way to avoid it other than by being always prepared, and willing for a just cause to meet it. If there be a people on earth whose more especial duty it is to be at all times prepared to defend the rights with which they are blessed, and to surpass all others in sustaining the necessary burdens, and in submitting to sacrifices to make such preparations, it is undoubtedly the people of these states.
When we see that a civil war of the most frightful character rages from the Adriatic to the Black sea; that strong symptoms of war appear in other parts, proceeding from causes which, should it break out, may become general and be of long duration ; that the war still continues between Spain and the independent governments, her late provinces in this hemisphere; that it is likewise menaced between Portugal and Brazil, in consequence of the attempt of the latter to dismember itself from the former; and that a system of piracy of great extent is maintained in the neighboring seas, which will require equal vigilance and decision to suppress it; the reasons for sustaining the attitude which we now hold, and for pushing forward all our measures of defence with the utmost vigor, appear to me to acquire new force.
The United States owe to the world a great example, and, by means thereof, to the cause of liberty and humanity a generous support. They have so far succeeded to the satisfaction of the virtuous and enlightened of every country. There is no reason to doubt that their whole movement will be regulated by a sacred regard to principle, all our institutions being founded on that basis. The ability to support our own cause, under any trial to which it may be exposed, is the great point on which the public solicitude rests. It has been often charged against free governments that they have neither the foresight nor the virtue to provide at the proper season for great emergencies; that their course is improvident and expensive; that war will always find them unprepared, and whatever may be its calamities, that its terrible warnings will be disregarded and forgotten as soon as peace returns. I have full confidence that this charge, so far as relates to the United States, will be shown to be utterly destitute of truth.
SEVENTH ANNUAL MESSAGE.
DECEMBER 2, 1823.
Many important subjects will claim your attention during the present session, of which I will endeavor to give, in aid of your deliberations, a just idea in this communication. I undertake this duty with diffidence, from the vast extent of the interests on which I have to treat, and of their great importance to every part of our Union. I enter on it with zeal, from a thorough conviction that there never was a period, since the establishment of our revolution, when, regarding the condition of the civilized world, and its bearings on us, there was greater necessity for devotion in the public servants to their respective duties, or for virtue, patriotism, and union in our constituents.
Meeting in you a new Congress, I deem it proper to present this view of public affairs in greater detail ihan might otherwise be necessary. I do it, however, with peculiar satisfaction, from a knowledge that in this respect I shall comply more fully with the sound principles of our government. The people being with us exclusively the sovereign, it is indispensable that full information be laid before them on all important subjects, to enable them to exercise that high power with complete effect
. If kept in the dark, they must be incompetent to it. We are all liable to error, and those who are engaged in the management of public affairs are more subject to excitement, and to be led astray by their particular interests and passions, than the great body of our constituents, who, being at home in the pursuit of their ordinary avocations, are calm but deeply-interested spectators of events, and of the conduct of those who are parties to them. To the people every department of the government, and every individual in each, are responsible, and the more full their information, the better they can judge of the wisdom of the policy pursued and of the conduct of each in regard to it. From their dispassionate judgment, much aid may always be obtained, while their approbation will form the greatest incentive and most gratifying reward for virtuous actions, and the dread of their censure the best security against the abuse of their confidence. Their interests, in all vital questions, are the same, and the bond, by sentiment as well as by interest, will be proportionably strengthened as they are better informed of the real state of public affairs
, especially in difficult conjunctures. It is by such knowledge that local prejudices and jealousies are surmounted, and that a national policy, extending its fostering care and protection to all the great interests of our Union, is formed and steadily adhered to.
A precise knowledge of our relations with foreign powers, as respects our negotiations and transactions with each, is thought to be particularly necessary. Equally necessary is it that we should form a just estimate of our resources, revenue, and progress in every kind of improvement connected with the national prosperity and public defence. It is by rendering justice to other nations that we may expect it from them. It is by our ability to resent injuries, and redress wrongs, that we may avoid
The commissioners under the fifth article of the treaty of Ghent having disagreed in their opinions respecting that portion of the boundary between
the territories of the United States and of Great Britain, the establishment of which had been submitted to them, have made their respective reports, in compliance with that article, that the same might be referred to the decision of a friendly power. It being manifest, however, that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for any power to perform that office, without great delay and much inconvenience to itself
, a proposal has been made by this government, and acceded to by that of Great Britain, to endeavor to establish that boundary by amicable negotiation. It appearing, from long experience, that no satisfactory arrangement could be formed of the commercial intercourse between the United States and the British colonies in this hemisphere by legislative acts, while each party pursued its own course without agree ment or concert with the other, a proposal has been made to the British government to regulate this commerce by treaty, as it has been to arrange, in like manner, the just claim of the citizens of the United States, inhabiting the states and territories bordering on the lakes and rivers which empty into the St. Lawrence, to the navigation of that river to the ocean.
For these and other objects of high importance to the interests of both parties, a negotiation has been opened with the British government, which it is hoped will have a satisfactory result.
The commissioners under the sixth and seventh articles of the treaty of Ghent, having successfully closed their labors in relation to the sixth, have proceeded to the discharge of those relating to the seventh. Their progress in the extensive survey required for the performance of their duties, justifies the presumption that it will be completed in the ensuing year.
The negotiation which had long been depending with the French government on several important subjects, and particularly for a just in; demnity for losses sustained in the late wars by citizens of the United States, under unjustifiable seizures and confiscations of their property, bas not as yet had the desired effect. As this claim rests on the same priociple with others which have been admitted by the French government, it is not perceived on what just ground it can be rejected. A minister will be immediately appointed to proceed to France, and resume the ne gotiation on this and other subjects which may arise between the two nations.
At the proposal of the Russian imperial government, made through the minister of the emperor residing here
, a full power and instructions have been transmitted to the minister of the United States at St. Petersburgh, to arrange, by amicable negotiation, the respective rights and interests of the two nations on the northwest coast of this continent. A similar proposal had been made by His Imperial Majesty to the government of Great Britain, which has likewise been acceded to. The government of the United States has been desirous, by this friendly proceeding, of manifesting the great value which they have invariably attached to the friendship of the emperor, and their solicitude to cultivate the best understanding with his government. In the discussions to which this interest has given rise, and in the arrangements by which they may terminate, the occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents
, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any pean powers.
Since the close of the last session of Congress, the commissioners and arbitrators for ascertaining and determining the amount of indemnification which may be due to citizens of the United States, under the decision of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia, in conformity to the convention concluded at St. Petersburgh on the 12th of July, 1822, have assembled in this city, and organized themselves as a board for the performance of the duties assigned to them by that treaty. The commission constituted under the eleventh article of the treaty of the 22d of February, 1819, between the United States and Spain, is also in session here; and as the term of three years, limited by the treaty for the execution of the trust, will expire before the period of the next regular meeting of Congress, the attention of the legislature will be drawn to the measures which may be necessary to accomplish the objects for which the commission was instituted.
In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives, adopted at their last session, instructions have been given to all the ministers of the United States, accredited to the powers of Europe and America, to propose the proscription of the African slave trade, by classing it under the denomination, and inflicting on its perpetrators the punishment, of piracy. Should this proposal be acceded to, it is not doubted that this odious and criminal practice will be promptly and entirely suppressed. It is earnestly hoped that it will be acceded to, from the firm belief that it is the most effectual expedient that can be adopted for the purpose.
At the commencement of the recent war between France and Spain, it was declared by the French government that it would grant no commissions to privateers, and that neither the commerce of Spain
, nor of neutral nations, should be molested by the naval force of France, except in the breach of a lawful blockade. This declaration, which appears to have been faithfully carried into effect, concurring with principles proclaimed and cherished by the United States from the first establishment of their independence, suggested the hope that the time had arrived when the proposal for adopting it as a permanent and invariable rule in all future maritime wars might meet the favorable consideration of the great European powers. Instructions have accordingly been given to our ministers with France, Russia, and Great Britain, to make those proposals to their respective governments; and when the friends of humanity reflect on the essential amelioration to the condition of the human race which would result from the abolition of private war on the sea, and on the great facility by which it might be accomplished, requiring only the consent of a few sovereigns, an earnest hope is indulged that these overtures will meet with an attention animated by the spirit in which they were made, and that they will ultimately be successful.
The ministers who were appointed to the republics of Colombia and Buenos Ayres, during the last session of Congress, proceeded shortly afterward to their destinations. Of their arrival there official intelligence has not yet been received. The minister appointed to the republic of Chili will sail in a few days. An early appointment will also be made to Mexico. A minister has been received from Colombia, and the other governments have been informed that ministers, or diplomatic agents of inferior grade, would be received from each, accordingly as they might prefer the one or the other.
The minister appointed to Spain proceeded, soon after his appointment